Monday, July 07, 2008

A Few Thoughts on the Flash

I've been thinking about the Flash far more than normal lately. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's just one of those things taking up an inordinate amount of brain space these days, probably because (a) Barry Allen has returned in Final Crisis and (b) I finally got around to reading the entire Geoff Johns Flash run, which has been sitting on my shelf in tpb form for months--I'd completely missed everything but his last dozen issues, because of Mark Waid burnout and my apathy toward superheroes when Johns took over the series.
  • The Barry Allen Flash is Grant Morrison's favorite superhero of all time, so is anyone really surprised that the character has returned in Final Crisis? Apparently, based on what Dan DiDio has said, Barry Allen has something the heroes need to defeat Darkseid, but he's just one piece of the puzzle. He's not the anti-Libra. Personally, I'm more of a Wally West guy myself, if I had to choose, but I have read all the Flash Archives and I like the Infantino art and think the Rogues are brilliant. In fact, the Rogues overshadow Barry Allen so much, that it's hard for me to even really grasp what Barry Allen's personality is supposed to be, other than a straight man for the Rogues.
  • Of course, the other thing about Barry Allen's return is that it's the final bit of undoing the Wolfman/Perez Crisis. The multiverse is back (basically). Supergirl is back. Now Barry Allen is back. And the death of the Flash was supposed to signal the end of the Silver Age, which is what Crisis on Infinite Earths brought about (although, in retrospect, it was the end of the Silver and Bronze ages). So, now that everything has been undone, is Final Crisis going to bring about a new age? I doubt it, but we'll have to wait and see.
  • If Barry Allen stays in the DCU, and if he gets a new series after Final Crisis--which seems likely--will he stay true to his science-based roots? The Wally West Flash was always about the human beneath the costume, but the Barry Allen Flash was all about using science to defeat bad guys. Will a new Flash series try to Wally-ize Barry Allen?
  • In Geoff Johns's Flash run, he made the Rogues an essential part of the book, which was a brilliant move, since its what made the Silver Age Flash work so well. But since he was writing Wally West, for a different generation, his take on the Rogues was quite different but quite good. I like what he did with Hunter Zolomon in particular--creating a new Rogue that acts as a legacy character and is frightening in his own way.
  • Howard Porter's work on Flash was ten times better than his JLA work. I really like what he did with Johns on the series.
  • Johns made great use of Identity Crisis, using the Dr. Light mind manipulation idea as the reason why the Top ended up so crazy and the Top as the reason that so many Rogues had decided to go straight (and how inconsistent they were at going straight, really--depending on the writer).
  • Johns had Hal Jordan as the Spectre mindwipe the entire planet so Wally West could regain his secret identity. It was handled well, leading to the weird Alberto Dose-drawn noir stories of Wally West not even knowing that he's the Flash. And really pissing Batman off. Was anyone at the time up in arms about Johns using magic to make Wally West's secret identity reappear? Or is that kind of thing more palatable in DC rather than Marvel?
  • I met the Flash at Six Flags with my family last week, but he was wearing the television show version of the costume. Why?


Matt St. Pierre said...

I've never really been a fan of The Flash. Actually, I've never been a huge fan of DC's heroes, outside of the coolest dude in a Bat costume ever (and I'm not talking about Papa Wayne!). It doesn't stop me from enjoying a good story - Kingdom Come, for example, and I'm reading Final Crisis - but I've never gotten into most individual heroes and all their canon and continuity.

I dunno why. Maybe it all stems from some scarring childhood incident involving a very fast person.

It's all a matter of taste and preference, of course. The comics I like reading would probably make your eyes bleed blood. What's that about the 90s Image style art, Tim? You totally love it, right?

(But they're all interesting questions, regardless.)

James said...

It's not something I thought I cared about, but in a recent Wordballoon Mark Waid expressed qualms with Barry coming back in any long-term capacity, because it takes away Wally's (unique) standing in the DCU as the sidekick who fulfilled his purpose. I have to agree with that sentiment; I'm a sucker for kid-superheroes "graduating" or whatever. Nightwing, Cannonball as an X-Man... all that stuff.

Speaking of the TV Flash, I was seriously hoping that if the George Miller Justice League flick (apparently featuring a hand-over from Barry Allen to Wally West) got made, they'd cast John Wesley Shipp as Barry.

Also also - God help me - I kind of want this.

Chad Nevett said...

Everything I've heard or read suggests that Barry was boring and not that interesting, which makes his heroic death the best thing that ever happened to the character. Ever since, he's taken on this mythic status and bringing him back for anything longer than a single story could ruin that.

But, then again, the same "boring as fuck" charge was levelled against Hal Jordan, too, and... oh, wait, I still agree with that one.